#521: Dr. Andrew Huberman – A Neurobiologist On Optimizing Sleep, Performance, And Testosterone | Tim Ferriss Show

#521: Dr. Andrew Huberman – A Neurobiologist On Optimizing Sleep, Performance, And Testosterone | Tim Ferriss Show

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Key Takeaways

  • We can leverage vision and breathing to take control of our internal state
  • Tips to optimize sleep: (1) within 30 minutes of waking up, go outside and view sunlight for 2-10 minutes; (2) get first bright light exposure 14-16 hours prior to the desired bedtime; (3) dim light in the evening hours; (4) avoid bright light and blue light 11pm-4am
  • Melatonin is actually a sex hormone disruptor and probably not worth the side effects – instead, explore a cocktail of mangesium threonate or magnesium bisglycinate at 200-400mg 2-3 hours before sleep; theanine 200-400mg; apigenin 50mg (consult with a physician first)
  • Even just 1-3 rounds of physiological sigh can reduce stress: double inhale through nose followed by extended exhale
  • Turmeric is a potent DHT antagonist but quickly reversible if you stop taking it
  • Supplements to optimize testosterone and DHT levels: (1) Tongkat ali at 400mg per day; (2) Fadogia agrestis at 425mg once per day
  • “When our mind is not stable…and we’re not able to control our mental state or it’s not where we’d like it to be, we need to look to the power of vision, respiration, movement, weight training, running, to re-orient the mind. It’s futile to rescue thinking with thinking.” – Dr. Andrew Huberman

Introduction

Dr. Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. (@hubermanlab) is a Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine. His lab focuses on neural regeneration, neuroplasticity, and brain states such as stress, focus, fear, and optimal performance. Andrew Huberman is also the host of the Huberman Lab podcast with new episodes released every Monday.

Tim Ferriss and Andrew Huberman cover a wide range of topics from leveraging vision and breathing, optimizing sleep, sex hormones – and much more!

Host: Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

Parallels of Vision And Breathing

  • Vision is a powerful lever to shift state of mind and body
  • Vision is part of the central nervous system
  • “What you see and how you view the world – literally – has an incredible impact on your state of mind.” – Dr. Andrew Huberman
  • Eyes are responsible for detecting shapes, colors, etc. but also telling the brain whether to be more relaxed or alert
  • Visual works to adjust inner-state
  • If we are relaxed, our pupils change so we see the entire environment we’re in; when we’re stressed or excited our pupils dilate and we have narrowed view
  • Like breathing, our vision changes with different states of our mind and body
  • If you look forward and expand view (looking in panorama), you turn off attentional mechanisms that drive stress
  • Vision and breathing have profound and rapid effects on the mind and body
  • Breathing and vision can cause changes in our internal state – and vice versa – our internal state can cause changes in our vision and breathing
  • We can leverage vision and breathing to take control of the internal state

Using Visual System For Optimization Of Sleep

  • Light viewing behavior has a strong impact on alertness and capacity to fall asleep and stay asleep
  • We have to tell the body what time of day it is by viewing light with the eyes
  • We can adjust our circadian clock through light – if we flood it with light, we are altering our natural rhythm  
  • Tip 1: within 30 minutes of waking up, go outside and view sunlight for 2-10 minutes – triggers healthy cortisol release to promote wakefulness; starts timer for melatonin
  • Shift cortisol pulse earlier in the day has been shown to ameliorate depression
  • Most powerful stimuli for biology and central circadian clock: (1) light; (2) exercise; (3) feeding; (4) social cues – interact with people early in the day
  • If you live in areas with heavy cloud coverage, turn on as many overhead lights as you can in the morning
  • As you approach evening, avoid bright light of any color and dim the lights
  • Bright light exposure between 11pm-4am has been shown to cause serious disruption in the dopamine system – even in subsequent days
  • Tip 2: get first bright light exposure 14-16 hours prior to when you want to sleep
  • As sun is setting, view the sun to send another signal to your brain that it’s evening
  • Temperature minimum: point at which body temperature is lowest during sleep – about 2 hours before natural wake up time
  • You can use temperature minimum to help with jet lag or travel plans by setting an alarm to wake up at that hour in the location you are traveling and view bright light

Sleep Aides: Supplements, Prescriptions, Etc.

  • Melatonin is actually a powerful suppressor of puberty and has strong effects on sex hormones
  • Melatonin has enough impact on hormones that it’s worth considering against
  • Supplemental melatonin is 10-1000x endogenous levels
  • Instead of melatonin, try a cocktail of: mangesium threonateor magnesium bisglycinate at 200-400mg 2-3 hours before sleep; theanine 200-400mg; apigenin 50mg
    • Always check with a doctor before starting, especially if you have any heart conditions or suffer from night terrors or sleepwalking
  • Phosphatidyl serine can be used to blunt cortisol release after going to bed but is only recommended in cycles
  • If you have sleep disruption for more than 2-3 days, you are in a period of long term stress and need to address through behavior, supplementation, or a combination of both
  • Sleep really requires us to relax our brain

Accessing Non-Sleep Deep Rest & Yoga Nidra

  • Non-sleep deep rest and Yoga Nidra is a powerful tool to access sleep, clam, neuroplasticity – similar to hypnosis
  • The hallmark of Yoga Nidra and non-sleep deep rest is self-directing state of calm
  • Thoughts follow vision and breathing
  • It’s important to learn to direct focus to something
  • Zero cost apps for Yoga Nidra: Kamini Desai, Liam Gillen
  • Paid app for Yoga Nidra: Reverie
  • A 20 minute non-sleep deep rest protocol accelerates plasticity by about 50% – and – increases retention
  • Physiological sigh: double inhale through inhale followed by extended exhale– offloads carbon dioxide and relaxes body
  • Even just 1-3 physiological sighs reduce stress
  • Anytime your inhales are longer than your exhales you are speeding the heart; anytime your inhales are shorter than your exhales you are slowing down the heart

Clinical Applications Of Hypnosis & Correlation To Psychedelics

  • Hypnosis is a state of calm and high focus
  • Hypnosis for smoking cessation has about a 50-60% success rate
  • As many as 90% of people experience reduced anxiety
  • A significant number of people have success using hypnosis for pain management
  • MDMA creates an atypical state: high dopamine release but has correlates of hypnosis because it creates a very focused state
  • Psilocybin and LSD are more similar to sleep and hypnosis because space and time become fluid
  • The two extremes of human experience are stress/excitement and sleep
  • MDMA, psilocybin, and LSD are in related spaces in their correlation to hypnosis but not overlapping

Testosterone & Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)

  • DHT is made from testosterone and is a more powerful androgen
  • DHT is the basis of gym circle supplements
  • DHT has a psychological effect of making effort feel good
  • Some people are more DHT sensitive than others
  • Turmeric is a potent DHT antagonist – but quickly reversible if you stop taking turmeric
  • Ingredients in Propecia correlate to a decrease in strength gain in male athletes because of DHT inhibition
  • Indirect ways to optimize testosterone and DHT levels: (1) sleep; (2) manage stress; (3) exercise
  • Supplements to optimize testosterone and DHT levels: (1) Tongkat ali at 400mg per day; (2) Fadogia agrestis at 425mg once per day
  • Sports testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) = low dose, high-frequency regimen – basically created by people on the internet
  • Warning: if you suddenly drive up testosterone a lot without taking anti-aromatase, you’re going to also increase estrogen

Caffeine & Supplements For Cognitive Enhancement

  • Alpha GPC has effects supported by quality studies – 300mg taken occasionally, early in the day
    • Use if you didn’t sleep well or want to push a workout or work session
  • Recommended yerba mate brand: Anna Park Yerba Mate
  • Most people would benefit by waiting 90 minutes before taking caffeine in the morning because you are outcompeting natural ability to wake up
  • Reverse or counteract effects of caffeine: (1) increase glucose/carbohydrate; (2) 100-200mg of theanine; (3) 1g of GABA

Vagus Nerve

  • The vagus nerve is a nerve network of the peripheral nervous system originating from the brain and connecting to the body
  • It controls the pathway by which mental state can influence mental state, digestion, heart rate
  • The pathway is bidirectional
  • Historical interest as a calming system but has stimulating branches as well
  • Exciting new studies are stimulating the vagus nerve and seeing real-time benefits in treating depression

Upbringing And Personal Tales Of Andrew Huberman

  • Huberman had some tough childhood experiences. He barely made it through high school and took a leave of absence his first year of college
  • Pivotal moment: 4th of July fight at a house party which triggered him to turn things around
  • He was in mental health treatment for a period to help him work through things
  • Andrew Huberman goes to psychoanalysis 3x per week and has seen the same therapist for 30+ years
  • Attended Hoffman Institute: personal development process – full immersion requiring physical and emotional purging
  • Huberman tips for life:
    • Work through your full biology – particularly understand how to optimize your sleep, nutrition, and exercise  
    • Exploration of internal reflection
    • Continue to have fun

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